In-line with the In-laws
yourLDSneighborhood News for Friday, 4 November, 2011
To Become Like Ruth
by Cindy Beck
Two men are sitting on a park bench. One says to his buddy, “My mother-in-law is an angel.” His friend replies, “You’re lucky. Mine is still alive.”
When dating my husband, I assumed that jokes like that were a comedian’s stock-in-trade and held no basis in reality. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I get along with Russ’s mom … I never went into the marriage viewing Mom as an enemy. The fact that we both loved the same man gave us common ground. (Well, that and a love of flowers!)
Ruth Exemplified Loyalty
When Naomi’s husband and two sons died, Naomi gave her daughters-in-law permission to return to their own families.
And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. The Lord grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept” (Ruth 1: 8-9).
Eventually, Naomi convinced one, who turned and went on her way to her own family. Ruth, however, refused to leave.
And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me” (Ruth 1: 16-17).
I don’t think there’s a better example of loyalty in all the scriptures. Could a mother-in-law refuse a woman who loved her as if she were her own mother, and who, according to the scriptures, “clave unto her” rather than let her leave? Ruth was willing to bypass the opportunity for a safe, convenient life in order to remain loyal to her mother-in-law. (“Convenient” being a relative word, when we consider they had no indoor plumbing, refrigeration, or cross-your-heart bras.)
Ruth was Obedient
Despite refusing to leave Naomi, Ruth was essentially an obedient daughter-in-law. She didn’t spend the rest of her time arguing with Naomi on issues, thinking she knew better. Instead, Ruth respected Naomi’s wisdom and experience. Once they settled in Bethlehem, Ruth walked behind the field hands in their kinsman’s field, gathering left over grain so that she and Naomi might have food. That’s when Naomi gave Ruth instructions that would change their lives.
Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek arest for thee, that it may be well with thee? And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor. Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.
And she [Ruth] said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do. And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her” (Ruth 3: 1-6).
The story has a happy, and very impressive ending, with Boaz marrying Ruth.
So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife … and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel … for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David (Ruth 4: 13-17).
There’s no doubt that if we acted toward our mothers-in-law in the way that Ruth did, most of us would have better, more loving relationships. Not long ago my daughter-in-law, Melinda, said to me, “When I was younger, I heard other people criticize their in-laws, and I decided I would never do that.” Her words warmed my heart; I thanked her and told her how much I appreciated her decision.
Melinda and I may not be perfect, but we’re working on acquiring the virtues exemplified by those two stalwart women of faith, and in the end, it has given us a better relationship. By following Ruth’s example (and Naomi’s as well), there’s the potential for all women to have happy relationships with their mothers/daughters in-law.
What have you done to become closer to your in-laws? Please leave a comment.
C.L. (Cindy) Beck graduated from the University of Wyoming, and has written both humor and serious articles for the Sanpete Messenger newspaper for many years. Despite the fact that she prefers to write humor and has published a book of humorous anecdotes titled, Mormon Mishaps and Mischief, she also writes serious stories and articles. Her non-fiction stories have appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and Cup of Comfort book series. In addition, her articles have appeared in magazines such as the Ensign, GreenPrints, and Real Woman on the Run. You can find out more about Cindy at her website, www.bythebecks.com.